A Sudanese man tells the story of his arrest
The following story will shed light on what happens to foreigners who get arrested by people in civilian dress and disappear for hours or days in a row.
This story is written verbatim as recited by a Sudanese man who got detained on February 5th, 2011 on his way to work. He was interviewed by me on February 7th, 2011 at 3.35pm Cairo local time. For security reasons I will be using the initial A. to refer to him, since I do not want to get him into more trouble as it is.
A. was on his way to work at eight thirty in the morning on February 5th, 2011, when his public means of transportation was stopped on Nasr Road (in Nasr City right in front of Tiba Mall) by people in civilian dress. Everyone on the bus was asked to step out and show their identification cards or passports. All foreigners were gathered to one side, while Egyptians were permitted on the bus again and they drove off. Whoever asked him to step out of the bus, took his mobile and money, and made him kneel on the pavement. A. was then blindfolded, handcuffed, asked to get up and escorted into a building, where he says he had to go down 3 flights of stairs. Once he arrived at destination the handcuffs were removed but the blindfold remained, and he was warned not to remove it. He was then placed in a cell with 3 other detainees, whose nationalities turned out to be Nigerian, Somali and Palestinian. The cell was too small for all of them to sit at once, so they had to alternate sitting turns two by two. Every hour he would be called out of his cell, handcuffed and brought in for interrogation. He was asked if he knew any Egyptians, if he took part in the protests, if he knew of people who took part in the protests, if he knew of people who are planning on taking part in the protests. This went on for twenty seven hours straight, repeating the same questions. He was offered no food, bathroom runs were permitted, during which his blindfold was removed and he was allowed to drink from the sink faucet. The people who were escorting him to the bathroom were all in civilian dress.
Around twelve noon on February 6th, 2011 A. was called out of his cell and he received news that he would be released. Still blindfolded he was escorted up three flights of stairs and asked not to look back once on the street. As soon as he reached the street, they removed his blindfolds and he found himself on the opposite side of the road from Tiba Mall.
When I asked him if he had been physically abused he said no. However, he mentioned that the Palestinian and Sumali detainees with him in the cell were beaten and were in pain. I also asked A. if he knew who he was detained by and he answered with an astonishing certainty: “It was the Intelligence Police”.